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The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 12th November 2018

The Future Lawyer Weekly Update – w/c 12th November 2018

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

Policing

Reported by Zara Smith

Discussion of Scrapping “Reasonable Grounds” for Stop and Search

In England and Wales, the police require reasonable grounds to stop and search a member of the public. This is governed in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

The police are looking into expanding the use of stop and search, which means “reasonable grounds” may not remain the threshold. The police believe the level of suspicion should be lower than “reasonable grounds” to allow the police to search the suspect. This suggestion has derived from a rising concern in knife attacks.

The new threshold is merely that the police have suspicion, but they must still say what has concerned them and why they stopped the suspect. The plans were confirmed by Adrian Hanstock, the deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police and national lead on stop and search for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

PACE has been described as out of date, Hanstcock has stated “When Pace was enacted in 1984, it was built on 1970s thinking. The factors that motivate violence today are not a look across the dancefloor or spilling someone’s pint, they are online and generating feuds online.”

This type of change is unlikely to succeed without controversy. As it stands, black people are nine times more likely than white people to get stopped by police. Also, it turns out the majority of people who are stopped actually turn out to be innocent. These outcomes already cause controversy about the stop and search protocol and give the public little faith in the police.

Hanstock stated “The outcome of a positive search, does not have to be a criminal justice solution. What’s the alternative? It could be a health or welfare approach.” This is reflected in his new proposal, where it would be more likely that those caught with a knife could be dealt with by an education programme, rather than ending up before the courts.

Read more here.

Criminal Law

Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey

The Shocking Demographic of the Parole Board

The parole board has faced a host of criticism in recent times since their recommendation that John Warboys, the black-cab rapist, be released earlier this year.

The board has this week revealed that the body, that is comprised of 240 individuals, has no black members and only 13 ethnic minority members which is likely to attract further criticism.

Caroline Corby, the chair of the Parole Board, has expressed her concerns over the lack of diversity on the board and suggests this may be the result of unconscious bias during the recruitment process.

Official figures from the Ministry of Justice, (MOJ) show that there are 22,000 ethnic minority prison inmates in England and Wales, which represents 26% of the national jail population. Of those 22,000, more than 10,000 of them are black. With no black representation on the parole board, one may argue that these prisoners are more likely to face adversity when it comes to pitching their case for release.

The solution would appear to be an amended approach to the recruitment process. Corby however has stated that there are relatively few black applicants for positions on the parole board and those that did apply did “very poorly” in the first two stages of the process for “reasons we don’t entirely understand.”

The chair of the board has acknowledged the loss of confidence the public has in the parole board and that the need to address the issue is essential in restoring at least some of that confidence.

For more information, see The Guardian and The Parole Board.

European Copyright Law

Reported by Sarah Mullane 

Court Rules That You Cannot Copyright Taste

The EU’s top court has ruled that the taste of food cannot be copyrighted, in a landmark Dutch cheese ruling.

The highest legal authority in the EU, the European Court of Justice, was tasked to determine if taste could be protected under the Copyright Directive, after Dutch company Levola claimed that a competing cheese infringed its copyright. In its original claim, Levola had argued that its spreadable cream cheese and herb dip, Heks’nkaas, had its copyright infringed by another cheese, Witte Wievenkaas, and asked the Dutch courts to have the competing producer cease the production and sale of its cheese.

Netherland’s Court of Appeal brought the question to the ECJ for ruling, where it was determined that taste was too “subjective and variable” to meet the requirements to be protected. In its judgement, the court outlined the two criteria needed to qualify for protection: an original intellectual creation; and, an ‘expression’ of that creation which makes it ‘identifiable with sufficient precision and objectivity’. As taste is “identified essentially on the basis of taste sensations and experiences, which are subjective and variable”, it accordingly cannot be eligible for copyright protection.

This is not the first time that the court has dealt blows whilst being tasked to rule in relation to food products. Only earlier this year the court ruled that KitKat could not have protected food status, and the year before determined that plant-based foods, such as tofu, could not be branded using dairy-styled names.

Read more here.

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